Tagged in: boss

Otmar Szafnauer departs as Aston Martin F1 boss

Otmar Szafnauer, chief executive officer and team principal of the Aston Martin Formula One team announced his departure on Wednesday.

The Silverstone-based team, owned by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, said in a statement that a leadership team would take over until a replacement was appointed.

“We would like to thank him for the service provided to the team over the past 12 years and wish him well for the future as he will undoubtedly take on new challenges.

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“Fortunately, we are led and managed by a strong group of individuals, and we are comfortable to take a little time to explore options before announcing a new team structure. The focus of the team is currently on preparing the most competitive car possible for the start of the 2022 season,” the statement added.

The Romanian-American engineer joined the team in 2009 when it was Force India, and in 2018 Szafnauer was made team principal when the Stroll consortium took ownership and rebranded to Racing Point.

The team changed to its latest guise as Aston Martin in 2021, when Stroll bought a 16.7% stake in the British sports car manufacturer. Stroll has since appointed former McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh as CEO of Aston Martin Performance Technologies, a role that was senior to Szafnauer’s and oversees the running of the F1 team.

Szafnauer has been linked with a move to rivals Alpine in late 2021, however he described early reports as “pure media speculation” when asked at the Brazilian Grand Prix in November.

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Title battle too close for comfort, says Mercedes boss Toto Wolff

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff expects the Formula One title battle between Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull rival Max Verstappen to rage deep into the 2021 campaign, with the gap between the pair too close for comfort.

The 36-year-old Hamilton turned a five-point deficit to his 23-year-old Dutch rival into a two-point lead in the overall standings after racing to a landmark 100th victory in the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday.

The duo have been engaged in a fierce battle all year long, with Hamilton aiming to become the first driver to win eight Formula One titles, as Verstappen hunts down his first championship triumph.

Thirty-two points is the widest the gap between the two has been, with the overall lead changing hands four times this year and three times in the last five races. There are seven races to go.

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“I think neither driver or neither team can have any comfort in the current situation because there is just no gap in terms of points,” Wolff, whose team is 33 points clear of Red Bull in the team standings, told reporters via video conference on Sunday.

“I think this is going to go very long.”

The 2014 Olympic Park venue that hosted Sunday’s race and Monza, scene of the Italian Grand Prix two weeks ago, have traditionally been tracks that have played to Mercedes’ strengths.

While Hamilton seized back the overall lead in Russia and kept his team’s undefeated run in Sochi intact, he and Mercedes would have hoped to have come away with more.

The points difference between Verstappen and Hamilton was unchanged after the pair put each other out of the race in Monza.

In Russia, Verstappen concluded second, despite having started last after taking on a new engine.

Of the seven races to come, only Turkey, where Hamilton clinched his seventh title last year, appears to be a clear Mercedes favorite.

Hamilton may also need to take on a new power unit, which like Verstappen in Russia, would trigger penalties, sending him to the back of the grid.

“I’ve stopped trying to anticipate whether it’s a historically strong race for us or not because with the new regulation everything has changed so much,” said Wolff.

“But definitely we knew that Monza and Sochi would be coming more towards us and the reality is that we are where we are.”

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